The Google Pixel lineup not only offers day one updates, but also many features that you may not have used or need to use more often.
Sure, there are more feature-rich versions of Android, but the simplicity of Google’s internal vision for the mobile operating system is one of the main reasons fans love the Pixel line. You also get the benefit of certain features you won’t find anywhere else, including enhanced Assistant integration and more.
We tried to omit some obvious candidates, such as Call Screen and Hold for Me, as they were touted as key sales features. Instead, we’re sticking with options you might not even know existed. So, with that in mind, here are some of our favorite Pixel features that we don’t think have been discussed or mentioned enough.
Video – 10 Google Pixel features you don’t use enough
Subscribe to 9to5Google on YouTube for more videos
Delete multiple apps at once
On a Pixel phone, or any phone with Google Files installed, you don’t have to spend hours trying to delete unwanted apps one by one. This time saver is great if you want to get rid of space-hogging games and apps all at once, rather than the slow process of finding apps, opening individual app settings, and hitting the “Uninstall” button. Combined with a few other features in Google Files, you can locate the biggest unused apps on your phone and easily delete them all in seconds.
Screen blackout at night
The benefits of an always-on display definitely outweigh the disadvantages, but at night, even at the lowest brightness setting, it can be dazzling or distracting. An easy solution is to disable this feature on the Pixel. With the Digital Wellbeing controls, you can set the always-on display to deactivate when you’re asleep.
As long as you’ve set up a bedtime mode routine, it’s as easy as toggling the option, and the always-on display will be deactivated for a preset amount of time. Once your alarm goes off, it will restart and work normally. If you don’t like charging or forget to charge your phone overnight, here are some potential battery-boosting benefits.
Even if you don’t often listen to audio or watch video on your phone, being able to change the sound balance on your Pixel is a great feature. This is a particularly useful feature for the Pixel 5 series, which has a very poor under-display earpiece speaker that simply isn’t loud enough. This does work with any connected Bluetooth or wired audio hardware, so you should use it sparingly.
While Tasker is the undisputed king of automation on Android, you might need some basic automation without going too deep. The Rules feature on Pixel phones gives you some basic tools to automate simple things. Don’t expect full device control; instead, it’s limited to being able to adjust your ringer volume and Do Not Disturb mode settings.
Triggers you provide include Wi-Fi or GPS locations. Of course, this is by no means comprehensive, nor is it a time saver for everyone. However, it’s a nice little touch that allows you to set rules for work, home, and any other location you want.
Quick screenshots, image sharing, text selection
Technically, these three things are all rolled into one here, but bear with me as they are all activated in the same way. The “Recents” app menu in Android 11 includes some powerful new toggles, and with Android 12, you get some interesting time-saving features that you probably don’t use as much as you should.
Let’s start with a quick screenshot toggle, as everyone can benefit right away. When swiping up to the main app preview carousel, you can instantly grab a screenshot of the app by tapping it.
It eliminates the need to press the power button and volume key combination when getting a full-screen image of the app in question. In Android 12, you still need to use the key combination method to access scrolling screenshots of supporting apps. However, it’s a super quick way to share content between apps and services.
The selection tool is a bit more powerful because it contains some neat tricks you might not know about. Tapping the “Select” toggle button allows you to easily position text on any screen. That alone is a great addition, but it offers some other cool features, courtesy of Google Lens and Assistant.
Foreign text is highlighted and you may be prompted to translate into your localized language, along with other contextual prompts including Copy, Share, and Search. The latter takes you to the Google app and search for the highlighted query.
A bonus for Android 12 users is more contextual tools in the Recents menu. If the app or webpage has an image, you’ll see a small picture icon that you can tap to quickly copy or save the image. Dragging the icon down opens a small share sheet that lets you send directly to your contacts or the app of your choice. There’s also a quick hyperlink tool that lets you copy a link from a web page, or like the image sharing tool, you can drag down to the popup share sheet.
The Pixel didn’t get a dedicated one-handed mode until Android 12, but it’s a nice touch that you probably won’t use as much. As phones get bigger, it becomes more and more difficult to be able to reach and hit the upper layers of the screen.
One-handed mode on the Pixel is a feature that’s worth activating on your phone even if you don’t use it all the time. Just swipe down on the navigation bar and everything that is normally out of reach is now within your grasp. It’s not always useful, but it’s useful because hands-free access to all parts of the application’s UI is required.
If you’re tired of constantly typing your PIN or using the sometimes finicky in-display fingerprint scanner on the Pixel 6, then you should try Smart Lock. The feature has been around for a long time, but not all Pixel users use it to save time unlocking and accessing their phone.
Smart Lock has several options for you to choose from. Body detection uses device sensors to determine whether your Pixel is in your pocket or in your hand. You can set up this feature using a trusted location, so you don’t have to enter your PIN or use biometrics at home or at a location of your choice. If you connect to a specific Bluetooth accessory, you can also choose to trust the device, which will remove the PIN and biometric requirements.
Using a phone while driving is not only unnecessary, but dangerous, unless you need help with turn-based navigation. Android Auto and Android Automotive do remove some risks, but removing distractions is still a better solution. Fortunately, Android has a built-in driving mode that automatically activates when you’re in the car.
As an extension of Do Not Disturb mode, there are several ways to activate it. Your phone can detect when you are on the road or driving at a certain speed. Or, it can switch when you connect to a Bluetooth device in the car. It’s a great way to remove any distractions while still retaining the ability to use Google Maps, while your calls, texts, and regular notifications are suspended until you reach your destination.
Eliminating distractions is easier said than done. Since Android 9 Pie, the Digital Wellbeing suite has offered an option called “Focus Mode” that can be customized to block your most distracting apps. When activated, all app notifications will be silenced until the time period ends.
This is great for weekends and evenings, but if you just want to mute apps on your phone quickly and efficiently, you can “pause” it when you need to. Just long press on any app and you’ll see an hourglass icon – tap this icon and it will mute completely until you reactivate it via the “unpause” app if you try to open it again.
No matter what technology you use, a good VPN is always something you should have access to. If you’re a Google One subscriber, you can use a free VPN with a 1TB storage tier ($9.99 per month). The same applies to other VPN providers, and for added security you can even block any internet connection unless you are also connected to a VPN service. Your data speeds and network performance may vary depending on the VPN provider you choose, but on known, unknown, and mobile data networks, it’s a surefire way to increase the security of your device.
What’s your favorite Pixel feature that hasn’t gotten enough mentions?
If you use a Google Pixel, what’s your favorite little-known feature or function? Did you use some options that you think deserve more attention? Let us know in the comments section below.
FTC: We use car affiliate links to earn revenue. more.
Check out 9to5Google on YouTube for more news: